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Posted at 9:45 a.m., Monday, November 27, 2006

Melissa Rupert of Maui wins entrepreneurial award

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Susie Thieman, CEO

MEO Business Development Corp.

808-249-2990

susie.thieman@meoinc.org

Melissa Rupert Earns 2006 Hand-Up Award

MEO Business Development Corp. (MEO BDC) has named Melissa Rupert of Flowers by Melissa, the winner of the 2006 Hand-Up Entrepreneurial Award.

Just a few short years ago, Melissa Rupert suddenly found herself a widow with an adolescent son to raise all by herself. With no real income they soon found themselves living at the homeless shelter here on Maui and her only source of income was from social security disability and food stamps. She knew she had to do something to lift them up and out of their dilemma and do it fast.

She approached the HI State Dept. of Vocational Rehab for assistance in learning a skill and after considerable review, they granted her a scholarship to help pay for schooling at Southern California School of Floral Design. When she graduated, DVR purchased a computer plus software and a special flower fridge. She also graduated from MEO BDC's Fast Trac and Core Four Business Planning Classes and officially began her business in 2002. In 2003, she obtained a loan from MEOBDC to purchase supplies & to set up her website and the rest is history. Her flower business is blooming and her elegant bridal party bouquets and custom leis have become very popular with many of Maui's premier wedding planners. You can visit her website at www.mauiflowers.com

She believes in MEO BDC's program so much that she encouraged her son, Justin Rupert to check out the business planning classes before starting his own business. He graduated from MEO BDC's Core Four Business Planning Course last year and now owns his own business, Pacific Underground Detection. Buying the latest equipment with a loan from Lokahi Pacific, he is well on his way to having his own successful business.

Because of Melissa's hard work and determination she has earned the respect of her peers and the MEO BDC 2006 annual Hand-Up Entrepreneurial Award.

Melissa says, "I have always loved flowers and feel blessed that I am able to make a good living designing custom flower designs for weddings and special occasions."

In making the presentation, MEO Business Development Corp. CEO, Susie Thieman said, "Melissa Rupert's experience is an inspiration to all who are in need of a hand-up, for her determination, can do attitude and success in her chosen profession."

The award was presented at the MEO BDC Maui Microenterprise Alumni meeting in November.

MEO Business Development Corp. Helping to promote self-sufficiency for Hawaii's people through strategically placed microloans and training for local entrepreneurs. MEO BDC has made 516 loans totaling more than $2.3 million since 1997.

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